Some analysts “concerned” CoD has peaked at retail

By Stephany Nunneley
4 August 2012 21:36 GMT

Analysts have started chatting about Call of Duty, what with Black Ops 2 readying for a fall release, and while many seem to think the brand has peaked, Blops 2 will still sell millions upon release.

Speaking with GI International following Activision Blizzard’s Q2 call to investors, analyst Ben Schachter of Macquarie Securities, said the firm has “significant concerns that CoD may have peaked in 2011,” and for various reasons.

Schachter cited industry sales declines, currency fluctuations, Modern Warfare 3’s sales being slightly below Black Ops, and other reasons.

Michael Pachter of Wedbush Securities agreed with Schachter, stating that since annual sales at a 25 million level “are unprecedented,” and that growth in online multiplayer is what initially fueled CoD sales.

“[CoD] was (and probably still is) the best multiplayer experience available, [but] Battlefield multiplayer probably cannibalized it a little bit, and this year, Halo and Medal of Honor could cannibalize CoD a bit more,” Pachter said. “Next year, another Battlefield plus the Respawn and Bungie games probably cannibalize it a bit more.

“There’s nothing wrong with 22 million units sold, or with 19 million or 16 million. CoD will remain the best selling game (at least until GTA) and Activision shouldn’t be concerned if it loses some players at the margin. They created a phenomenon, and others are emulating them.”

Colin Sebastian of RW Baird is of the same opinion as well, noting Activision’s lower financial guidance assumes “Call of Duty is lower this year than last year,” which might have something to do with the current console market.

“Also, if new consoles are coming next year, that is typically a disruptive period for game sales, and that could drive sales lower as well, at least temporarily,” Sebastian continued. “The bigger question I think is whether the franchise (or any franchise) is in a continuous period of decline. Personally, I don’t know which competing console title would take so much share from Call of Duty.”

However, other analysts believe retail and consoles figures can no longer be used as the sole source of sales, as digital and PC sales need to be taken into account as well as the declining retail market overall.

Plus, CoD Online launching in China will provide a new source of revenue for the firm.

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